I missed noting this on Friday, but here's a quick update from the voting-tech beat: A team of hackers commissioned by California Secretary of State Deborah Bowen managed to hack into electronic voting machines made by three of the four largest suppliers in the industry, Diebold, Hart InterCivic, and Sequoia Voting Systems. After thoroughly testing each of these systems, the team -- led by Matthew Bishop, a computer science professor at the University of California, Davis -- found "several scenarios in which ... weaknesses could be exploited to affect the correct recording, reporting, and tallying of votes."
The biggest problem with each of these systems, Bishop told the New York Times, is that designers seemed to have added security measures as an afterthought rather than attempting "to build security in from the design, in Phase 1."
Voting industry reps criticized the attacks as not having been realistic; they say that no machine has yet been hacked during an election. Perhaps that's true -- but the upshot of this study, and the worry of a long line of voting activists, is that if a hack had been carried out during an election, we wouldn't know it.
Bowen says she will decide this week whether to allow the compromised systems to be used in the next election. Lawmakers in Washington aren't moving nearly so swiftly; Democrats are still debating whether to push improvements to voting technology by the 2008 race.